Gender-based violence: the shadow pandemic impeding girls' education

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, data show that violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has increased globally.

January 20, 2022 by Audrey Adhiambo, Collaborative Centre for Gender and Development, and Oloo Adhiambo, East Africa Civil Society Organizations Forum - Kenya Chapter
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3 minutes read
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A young girl in class at the Ecole Madina III, Niamey, Niger. April 2017. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
A young girl in class at the Ecole Madina III, Niamey, Niger. April 2017.
Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch

As we look ahead in 2022, we are not far removed from the annual International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25), when activists around the world begin to observe 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), ending on Human Rights Day (December 10).

This campaign seeks not only to raise awareness on the plight of girls and women, to hold governments and other decision makers accountable, but also to celebrate progress toward gender equality.

According to the World Health Organization, one in three girls and women, around 736 million people, will be subjected to physical or sexual violence over their lifetime by an intimate partner or sexual violence from a non-partner. This statistic has remained mostly unchanged over the past 10 years.

Increase in gender-based violence during the pandemic

School closures carry high social and economic costs for children across all communities, but most especially for girls. The resulting disruptions caused by COVID-19 have only exacerbated existing disparities in education faced by women and girls.

The pandemic related school closures have seen an increase in girls’ vulnerability to various forms of GBV and increases their time spent on domestic chores. The ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can best be described in the words of Haroon Rashid: “We fell asleep in one world and woke up in another.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, reports have shown that all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, have intensified.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, GBV is a growing shadow pandemic. And when schools reopen, girls’ continue to be affected, with many having fallen behind in learning or unable to return to school at all because of pregancy or needing to work to support their family.

Addressing gender-based violence

According to Liverpool VCT (Voluntary, Counselling and Testing), Care and Treatment ( LVCT Health), a Kenyan nongovernmental organization, in the 1.5 months following the March 13, 2020 COVID-19 lockdown in the country, 793 adolescent and young women experienced violence, a stark increase from pre-COVID times (Ngunjiri et al. 2020).

Physical violence increased from 33% to 43%, while sexual violence doubled from 2.5% to 5%. According to a report by the UN Country Team in Kenya, calls to GBV hotlines increased by 775% in March and April 2020 (UN Country Team 2020).

Young people are leading efforts and solutions to build a better and safer world for all of us, including on GBV. Youth advocates worldwide are employing novel strategies to tackle GBV, such as “artivism.”

According to Wikipedia, “artivism” combines the words “art” and “activism.” With the rising popularity of virtual platforms and social media campaigns, youth are using culture jamming, subversion street art and murals, paintings, spoken word, plays, satire, fashion and short videos to reach wider audiences.

Collaborative Centre for Gender and Development (CCGD) has a network of youth GBV champions and artists who have been capacity built how to better use art to relay messages against GBV.

These innovative techniques aim to address the core causes of GBV by altering attitudes and actions that contribute to GBV and inequity.

As a global language that transcends all frontiers, artivism has a broad and international appeal and can be a strong tool for raising awareness and encouraging action during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

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At our association, Children of Somalia, we have been following the GPE Transforming Education articles (Publications) with great interest.

We are are a Danish Association, and we have been engaged in Education and Health for the Somalia since 2011, funded by Somali Diaspora in Denmark, DRC and private individual donations.

We would like to know whether it is possible for civil society associations to apply for funding from GPE or if GPE works only with Governments.

Sincerely Yours
Dr. Ahmed F. Dualeh/ Deputy Chairman
Children of Somalia (COS)

We would like to know whether GPE

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